Support the Café
Search our site

Speaking to the Soul: Turning Anger into Ashes

Speaking to the Soul: Turning Anger into Ashes

Ash Wednesday, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

 

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 95 & 32, 143 (morning) // 102, 130 (evening)

Jonah 3:1-4:11

Hebrews 12:1-14

Luke 18:9-14

Of all the ways for us to feel disappointed or abandoned by God, the way God disappoints Jonah in today’s first reading might seem surprising. Jonah the reluctant prophet proclaims imminent disaster to the wicked city of Nineveh. When the king of Nineveh hears these warnings, he takes off his robe, puts on sackcloth, and sits in ashes. He advises all other humans and animals in Nineveh to fast and cover themselves in sackcloth as well, even though there are no guarantees about the outcome. The king’s proclamation simply says, “Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”

Moved by the people’s penitence, God does indeed change his mind and turn from anger . . . much to Jonah’s disappointment. Yet the anger that God turns away from finds another host: Jonah himself. When God changes his mind and calls off his punishment, “this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry.”

Trying to get through to Jonah, God nurtures a bush to grow up and protect Jonah from the heat of the day. Then, God sends a worm to infest the bush so that it withers. God asks, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” Jonah replies, “Yes, angry enough to die.”

When God’s anger fails and disappoints Jonah, Jonah finds himself infected with an all-consuming anger. At first glance, it may not occur to us to be disappointed in a God who turns away from anger, but perhaps some piece of us is counting on God to share our outrage and to take it out on people who deserve it from time to time. Our faith is challenged by a God who turns out to be more compassionate than we realized.

Instead of burning with deadly anger, let’s join the king of Nineveh and sit in ashes. Who knows what will happen? We may find ourselves in the loving presence of a God whose own heart melts for us, and who longs to shade us not only from a fiery world, but from our own inner heat. May all anger around us and in us turn to ashes before it consumes us.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal.  She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Dislike (0)
0 0 vote
Article Rating
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

1 Comment
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rod Gillis

Once I receive the sign of ashes later today, I plan to engage "radio silence" for Lent. Hope I can last. However, I wanted to share this article posted at Anglican Journal by Bishop Mark McDonald, currently our National Indigenous Bishop and previously TEC bishop in Alaska. The article is on the theme of war and the morally wounded. Blessings to all for Lent.

http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/moral-injury-and-the-future-of-canada

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Facebooktwitterrss
Support the Café
Past Posts
2020_001

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café